I decided to head south to go camping overnight Sunday to Monday due to colder weather forecast for the late weekend ( low in 40s). Luckily, I am off on Mondays and since most weekend campers have to go back to work, it is possible to get last minute campsites. For me, that delays the time when I will have to …stealth camp. This was my second solo camping trip in The Van. (I am behind on posting about the first trip but will get to it)
Myakka River SP is known for birding and they also have 38 miles of hiking trails so all in all, a good and close destination. It is also a popular destination for lots of RVs. Unfortunately, they do not separate the RV sites from the tent sites and all the sites have full hookups and cost $30. My site was right next to the big RV with the wailing toddler who was not the “happy camper” as their RV flag proclaimed. Maybe it was freezing its butt off in the 46 F night.
FYI-there is the exception of some primitive sites that can be hiked to.
Initially, I was quite disappointed by the RV crowds, overused campsites but as soon as I parked at the trail head and started to hike, that was left behind and a whole new world of the Florida prairie landscape opened up. Needless to say, I did not encounter any other hikers LOL. After about a 2.5 mile hike and near sunset, I drove around and found the spot where the birds hang out. I spent a few hours their photographing the roseate spoonbills that were hanging out and talking camera shop with another photographer there.
I went back to the campsite after sunset, warmed up and ate my dehydrated camp food, had an illegal beer or two and retired to my van to escape the wailing baby and to warm up. There I discovered that my i pad that I use for reading had reverted to the “hello” screen and would not come back without wifi connection which of course was not available. Note to self: always bring a real book for emergencies. At that point, there was not much else to do but go to bed at the late hour of 8:30.
After a cold but fairly restful night, I brewed my morning coffee, packed up and leaving the wailing baby behind, returned to the bird spot.
These snowy egrets doing their mating dance was the highlight of the am photography session. This was the first time I have had the privilege of photographing this event. A few other photographers are there and I fight off camera/lens envy.
The black vultures are plentiful and strangely beautiful in their own ugly way.
A juvenile bald eagle did a few fly bys.
And then off for another hike in the prairie land. This time I did a 6.2 mile loop and saw one couple with a dog. I’m telling you, everyone stays on the well traveled roads and boardwalk areas and maybe a quarter mile into the trail.
The trail opens out to the prairie and suddenly, the landscape opens up as far as the eye can see. Hiking out here all alone gives me an immense feeling of gratitude and well being that I have been missing. I struggle to capture the feeling with my camera but the vastness of the wide open space is elusive. Being alone, I can stop and stalk a warbler for as long as I like. I realize that I don’t really care if the campsite is trampled or loud because that’s just a place to park and sleep for the night.
Just around the bend is the prairie.
The approach trail is shaded with beautiful oak trees with moss, ferns and other epiphytes that glow in the afternoon sun.
Oak trees covered with old man’s beard moss
Before heading home, I stopped to brew some coffeein my french press coffee maker. It makes a great cup of coffee but OMG- you can burn your mouth on it for a long time. I finally had to pull over to transfer the coffee to another container so it would cool enough to drink.
Some notes to remember from this trip:
Hard copy book
Verizon plan so I have some connectivity and Ron does not worry. AT&T coverage sucks.
Figure out how to use the Gaia trail app I bought so it does not quickly eat all my battery while hiking.
Get over my fear of driving over Sunshine skyway bridge so I don’t have to drive the long way around and can save 30 min driving time going south.
Remember point and shoot camera for scenery shots so I don’t have to keep switching out lenses.
The coffee burns hurt my mouth 🙂